Brian Ferguson: An audience with Juliette Binoche

I HAVE never been one for name-dropping, but after a low-key press conference in a bar at the King’s Theatre last week, I had a second “audience” with the French actress Juliette Binoche “in conversation” for an hour at the Hilton, the latest of a series of discussions the festival has lined up with the BBC.

Juliette Binoch. Picture: Robert Perry
Juliette Binoch. Picture: Robert Perry
Juliette Binoch. Picture: Robert Perry

As if a live broadcast with an Oscar winner wasn’t enough to keep them on their toes, the small army of BBC staff working at the event had to spring into action when part of the set fell on to the floor behind Binoche – and resisted her valiant attempts at a quick repair.

Binoche’s passion for acting on both stage and screen shone through – but went a step too far for the BBC’s strict rules on bad language, prompting an on-air apology from presenter Deborah Bull, leaving the Antigone star looking somewhat nonplussed.

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With the likes of Alistair McGowan and Rory Bremner appearing on the Fringe you would think the world of political mimicry would be well covered.

But if House of Commons speaker John Bercow fancies a career outside Westminster, he could well find a calling at the festival following his debut appearance.

Spot-on impersonations of Tony Benn and William Hague, along with a clutch of one-liners, had the audience at Edinburgh University’s business school roaring with laughter.

And, ironically given his hard-line approach to SNP MPs’ behaviour in the Commons, he seemed to positively revel in the Fringe crowd’s applause.

There is little trace of the independence referendum on the Fringe. But the Assembly Rooms, which hosted many of last year’s big political plays, has welcomed back the creator of one of the most memorable online parodies of the long campaign for her own show.

Zara Gladman’s spoof of the Lady Gaga hit Bad Romance, scored more than 140,000 hits on YouTube. Now Gladman, better known as alter-ego Lady Alba, has taken time out from her day job with Glasgow Science Festival to create a “science panto” with comic Bruce Morton. Oh yes she has.